Biking With Your Dog

Biking With Your Dog

Posted by  //  August 17, 2018  //  Articles

Do you mountain bike? Do you have a good friend that watches you pull out the driveway as you leave for your ride? Your dog can also enjoy the fun and benefits of being in the woods or on trails as well. Dogs have a lot of energy and require exercise just like you or I.  Depending on the type of dog you have will determine the extent of running he can do. Most medium to large size dogs from the hunting or working class groups (or a combination thereof) do well with biking. Obviously a little dog with short legs will have a tough time trying to keep up. If you have a four legged buddy you want to take out on the trail for the first time it would be a good idea to talk to your dog’s veterinarian about what you have in mind for him. It is important that your dog can deal with the rigors and intensity of a trail run. Mountain bikes can move right along at a good pace and cover many trail miles.

If the dog is just a puppy, it’s recommended to leave him home until he is least 6 months old. After he has gotten a little older, start your first slow and short ride someplace where you can work out the little details. Dogs are instinctively pack animals and if you lead they will follow. Since he will be off the leash for the ride/run he needs to know a few important commands. The most important ones are “stay” and “come”. Control of Fido is very important because of all the distractions on the trail. Distractions come in many forms, such as other people and possibly their dogs, horses, deer and vehicles. If you start your ride from spot near a busy road, it might be a good idea to keep him on a leash until you are ready to leave for the ride.

I have found another good way to break him in is to take him on a group ride with other well behaved dogs. He will most likely be so excited to be in the woods, around you and the other dogs that he will follow without question; again it’s the pack idea.

Before you hit the trail you should have a checklist for Fido. Your list should include a water bottle just for him, a leash, and some first aid supplies and maybe some treats to lure him back when he strays (cut up hot dogs in a baggie worked for me).

So, you and dog are headed down the trail, now what? Well you’ll find that while you are following some kind of trail, your 4-legged buddy will be running from one side of the trail to the other, smelling all those scents that drive dogs nuts. Some dogs can put on half again as many miles as the rider, so keep that in mind when watching your mileage because he will have more. Most dogs will want to be out front, but because of their sniffing, they may lag for a few seconds and then come charging up thru. It’s important for you to hold your line, because that is what the dog is expecting. A few things that the new trail dog must learn and that is to stay away from the bike’s front wheel or even stopping in the middle of the trail, not good. Usually if you shout “Go!” works, but sometimes a collision happens. Both you and the dog need to be alert and aware of what is going on. Sometimes a friendly low speed bump from your front wheel to the dog’s rump or tail can quickly bring this point clear. A few applications of this can burn it into his mind. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

There are some young dogs that have so much energy or get so excited when they get out on the trail that controlling them can be a real handful if not near impossible. You need to evaluate the excitable boy or in our case the Crazy Daisy. She has not given us the confidence to just let her run, until then we keep working with her on a 30ft lead. We have had great luck with our last two trail huskies but this one needs more attention before she can go free. The last thing we want is for her to take off on us and end up lost.

Some people I have talked to have had good luck with training collars for dogs “off leash” in the woods. Some people don’t like them but if done properly they can keep the dog with you, safe and sound. With something like this it requires time and work but it may be the best way to train a stubborn dog.

Mountain biking with your dog can be a challenge, but patience and time will make it worth the effort. Just remember, that it will be difficult to pull out the driveway without taking your riding buddy along. If you are a cross country skier, this same kind of fun can continue when the snow flies.

Happy trails to you!

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